& Numeracy home | What is Science?
These words are defined as they were used by scientists in the
activity "What is Science?"
abundance: a large amount
accumulate: to pile up, collect, or gather together; to
analysis: a careful study of the parts of something in order
to understand more about the whole.
analyze: to separate into parts for study; to explain and
appreciate: to understand and accept the value of something.
astronomy: the science that studies stars, planets, and
the rest of the universe.
atmosphere: the air surrounding the Earth.
authority: knowledge; source of expert information and opinion.
biodiversity: the range of plants and animals in an ecosystem
biological oceanography: the science that studies the plants
and animals of oceans and seas.
biology: the science that studies the growth and life processes
of living things.
buckyballs: ball-shaped molecules of carbon.
carbon: a chemical element found in all living things.
challenge: an interesting or difficult problem or task;
a request for information or proof.
challenging: interesting; difficult.
characteristics: qualities; properties.
chemistry: the science that studies basic elements and their
chlorophyll: the green matter in the cells of plants that
is necessary to produce plant food from sunlight (by photosysthesis).
circulation (as in ocean circulation): the movement of something
from place to place.
collaborative: cooperative; working with others on a project.
competitive: trying to win; working against someone else.
complicated: difficult to do or understand.
conductive heat flow: the transfer of heat from warm and
cold objects (like water in ponds) next to each other.
conservative: safe; not too extreme; not willing to take
chances or risks; wanting things to stay as they are; not
contemporary: belonging to the present time; current; modern.
contradict: to say the opposite of; to deny the truth of
convictions: beliefs or opinions that are strongly held.
currents: masses of liquid or air that flow in one direction.
daring: brave or carefree enough to do something new, different,
data: a collection of measurements or observations.
distribution: the spread or range of something.
dynamic: full of energy; lively; active; strong.
ecology: science that studies the relationships among plants,
animals, and the environment.
ecosystem: a community of organisms and its environment.
endeavor: a project, attempt, or a try.
enjoyable: pleasant; giving joy.
entrepreneurs: business people, often those who work for
themselves or who start new businesses.
environment: surroundings; physical, chemical, and biological
factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community.
environmental: having to do with the surroundings.
essential: necessary; important.
evaporate: change into vapor.
evolution: the process of changing and adapting to an environment
experiment: a test or trial to discover something unknown.
experimentation: the process of running tests, trials,
flexibility: the ability to adapt to changes.
food chain, food web: the plants and animals that feed upon
each other in a place, habitat , or system.
frustration: a condition of being disappointed, blocked,
or prevented from doing something.
fundamental: basic; central; serving as a foundation.
geochemist: a person who studies the chemistry of the Earth.
geology: the science that studies the physical properties
of the Earth and how it has changed over time. To do this, some
scientists study rocks on Earth, and other scientists study other
geophysical: the study of the solid Earth, its air and water,
and its relationship to space.
geophysicist: a person who studies some part of the Earth
and its systems.
glacier: snowfall that has increased over many years to
form a mass of ice.
grant: money for a specific research purpose.
Gulf Stream: a warm, fast ocean current. It flows northward
along the coast of the Eastern United States and then eastward to
Ireland, Great Britain, and Scandinavia. It makes these countries
warmer than they would be otherwise.
habitat: the natural environment of a plant or animal.
hydrology: ("hydro"= water; "logy"=the
science of) the science of water (liquid and solid) The water under
study can be on the surface of the land (rivers, lakes, oceans),
in the soil and rocks, or in the air.
hypothesis: a possible explanation to be tested.
inadequate: not enough; not good enough.
incredible: difficult or impossible to believe.
interpretive: explanatory; giving information.
intricacies: complex and complicated.
intuition: the power to know or understand something without
thinking it through in a logical way.
knowledgeable: having information or knowledge.
marine: having to do with the sea or ocean.
microbe: a life form that can only be seen with a microscope.
microbial: like something that can only be seen with a microscope.
microscopic: too small to be seen with the human eye.
molecule: the smallest unit of a substance that has all
the properties of that substance (salt, for example). A molecule
is made up of a group of atoms.
natural: produced by nature; not made by humans.
nitrogen: a gas with no color or smell; a chemical element.
It makes up about 80% of the air around Earth. It is a part of all
nutrients: something in food used by plants and animals
to help them grow.
oceanography: the science and study of oceans.
organic: based on carbon, an element in living organisms.
organisms: any plants or animals.
ozone: a form of oxygen that is found in the Earths
perseverance: patience, continuing a task or course of action.
phenomena: happenings or facts that can be seen or known
through the senses.
phosphorus: a chemical element that is important to living
things. It helps plants grow.
photosynthesis: the process by which plants use the suns
energy and their own chlorophyll to process nutrients.
photosynthetic microorganisms: single-celled organisms that
grow through photosynthesis.
phytoplankton: small plants (best seen with a microscope)
floating in the upper layer of the ocean.
predictions: statements that something might happen or is
expected to happen.
primary productivity: the growth of plants through photosynthesis.
This term is used to describe the growth of phytoplankton in the
processes: series of actions that produce something; a series
of changes or acts.
protists: small, single-celled organisms such as
protozoa and some algae.
quarks: an elementary particle; a building block of protons
rational: based on reasoning or logic; sensible; clear and
regulation: (as in primary productivity regulation by environmental
processes); a process, method, or law of nature that controls or
remotely-operated vehicle (ROV): an unmanned underwater
machine used to explore the deep ocean and the seafloor. The ROV
may contain cameras and other sensors. It may be able to take samples
from the ocean floor. The ROV is connected to a ship with cables.
It is operated by people on board the ship.
remote sensing: The use of satellites and other technology
to gather information from a great distance about the Earth and
reproducible: able to copy or duplicate; able to produce
snorkeling: swimming slightly underwater with the help of
a tube held in the mouth. The tube extends above the surface of
the water, so that the swimmer can stay underwater for long periods
submersible: a vessel or ship that can function underwater.
synthesis: combining separate elements or pieces of information
into a unified whole; a process of reasoning.
systems: groups of related things or parts that work together
as a whole.
systematic: based on a method or plan; orderly; organized.
systematic inquiry: an organized process of looking for
correct information or truth.
systematically: in an orderly or organized way.
tenacity: patience, grit, toughness, strength, nerve.
temperature: A measure of energy in something. The more
a substance has heat energy, the higher is its temperature.
tremendous: very large in size; huge; excellent; superb.
theory: An explanation for something, based on observation,
experiments, and reasoning.
tournaments: contests of skill; a series of games.
valid: based on truth, fact, or logic; acceptable.
vehicle: a way to communicate or express oneself; something
used to carry people or things.
verifiable: can be proved.
zooplankton: small animals (best seen with a microscope)
floating in the upper layer of the ocean. They feed on small plants
(phytoplankton) or other small animals.